ACB Braille Forum, September 2013

The ACB Braille Forum
Volume LII September 2013 No. 3
 
Published by
the American Council of the Blind
 
The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.
 
Kim Charlson, President
Melanie Brunson, Executive Director
Sharon Lovering, Editor
 
National Office:
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201
(202) 467-5081
fax: (703) 465-5085
Web site: http://www.acb.org
 
The Braille Forum (TM) is available in braille, large print, half-speed four-track cassette tape, data CD, and via e-mail.  Subscription requests, address changes, and items intended for publication should be sent to Sharon Lovering at the address above, or via e-mail to slovering@acb.org.
 
The American Council of the Blind (TM) is a membership organization made up of more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates.  To join, contact the national office at the number listed above.
 
Those much-needed contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to Attn: Treasurer, ACB, 6300 Shingle Creek Pkwy., Suite 195, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430.  If you wish to remember a relative or friend, the national office has printed cards available for this purpose.  Consider including a gift to ACB in your Last Will and Testament.  If your wishes are complex, call the national office.
 
To make a contribution to ACB via the Combined Federal Campaign, use this number: 11155.
 
For the latest in legislative and governmental news, call the "Washington Connection" toll-free at (800) 424-8666, 5 p.m. to midnight Eastern time, or read it online.
 
Copyright 2013
American Council of the Blind
 
All content created initially for use by ACB in publications, in any media on any web site domains administered by ACB, or as a broadcast or podcast on ACB Radio, archived or not, is considered to be the property of the American Council of the Blind. Creative content that appears elsewhere originally remains the property of the original copyright holder. Those responsible for creative content submitted initially to ACB are free to permit their materials to appear elsewhere with proper attribution and prior notification to the ACB national office.

Forum Subscription Notes
 
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ACB Braille Forum, September 2013 downloads

President's Message: Pay It Forward in Two Ways by Kim Charlson

I am so honored to be writing my first message as the newly elected president of the American Council of the Blind. I won't spend a lot of time discussing who I am as that has been covered in the expanded release story in the August issue.
 
Suffice it to say, I have a longstanding history of advocacy on behalf of people who are blind or visually impaired locally, nationally and internationally. I've always been motivated to work to make things better for others experiencing vision loss. Whether the issues are education, rehabilitation, information access, civil rights, guide dog access, audio description, arts accessibility, housing issues, accessible voting, employment concerns and on and on ... there never seems to be a shortage of issues on which advocacy is needed. 
 
I've always been a believer in the concept of "pay it forward," a term describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase is generally attributed to Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book "In the Garden of Delight."  For the attorneys among us, "pay it forward" is also a concept of contract law applying to loans and third-party beneficiaries. Over time, I've seen many examples of ACB members embracing this philosophy in their daily lives as well.
 
The second type of "pay it forward" that I want to discuss involves our actual U.S. paper currency. I want to provide an update on where developments are with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) on the progress of the accessible paper currency case.
 
As background, in October 2008, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of the American Council of the Blind, instructing the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury to take steps to make U.S. currency fully accessible. Since that time, the BEP has been engaged in several research projects to determine how to most effectively mark currency, how to make the paper money hold tactile markings for the lifetime of a bill, and how to implement this court order throughout the U.S. economy. Many factors have to be considered, and after my firsthand experience with BEP staff and the research process I am convinced that while it is taking time, the BEP is moving forward with a very deliberative process that will absolutely work well. Let me elaborate on my most recent experience with the BEP and consumer testing and research.
     
Staff from the BEP were in Columbus during the ACB convention to conduct usability testing with totally blind conference attendees on the potential tactile markings. BEP has been to previous conventions to gather data to identify the most effective raised tactile features to determine which are best detected by touch. This year they were testing the most effective transparent ink to place the tactile marking onto the paper note.
 
BEP staff visited the Perkins School for the Blind in late July to get specific feedback from teenagers, who were not represented in effective numbers at our conventions. I had the opportunity to do the testing firsthand, in addition to another 30 adults who provided further data for the research.
 
I believe that by inviting consumers who are blind to participate in testing, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has made it very clear that they want to "get it right" as they develop effective methods to make U.S. paper currency fully accessible by touch. The response from all testers was enthusiastic to say the least.
 
The user testing in Columbus and other locations across the country is part of a national consumer evaluation program to inform the development and design of paper money to provide users who are blind with a way to identify each denomination of U.S. currency. The process of data gathering, design and production is taking time, and often I hear from people asking "why is it taking so long?"
 
After experiencing the extent of the BEP testing process, the number one thing the BEP wants to do is to do it right. No one would be happy if the end result didn't hold the tactile markings for the life of the bill. For low-vision users, the BEP has committed to continue adding large, high-contrast numerals and distinctive color schemes to bills.
 
Each step in the process involves documenting the final decision - in the case of the inks to print the tactile markings on the bill, BEP needs definitive data to support their decision to select a specific manufacturer because when a decision is made that benefits one vendor, the other vendors often file challenges requiring the BEP to provide the data behind the decision.
 
One of the issues the BEP needs to take into consideration is the life cycle of paper currency. How long does a bill last before it wears out? $1 – 5.9 years; $5 – 4.9 years; $10 – 4.2 years; $20 – 7.7 years; $50 – 3.7 years; and $100 – 15 years. Until such time as the final unmarked bill is out of circulation, the BEP is planning on distributing a free, handheld, talking/vibratory electronic currency reader to consumers who are blind or visually impaired. This device will benefit people with neuropathy as well as providing identification for consumers until the tactile bills are released into circulation. The exact mechanism for the distribution process has not yet been determined, but as soon as timing and details are known, the word will be sent out through a wide variety of venues including ACB.
 
My confidence has been affirmed that the BEP is doing things right, that by engaging consumers in each phase of the testing, they will be getting it right for the future generations of people who are blind that will rely on tactile markings on currency to pay it forward. Yes, it will take time, but it is definitely coming. I hope you as ACB members are proud of what our organization has been able to achieve for future generations regarding currency access. We have truly all made a difference with "pay it forward" for people who are blind.

Access Board Issues Report on Best Practices for Access to Prescription Drug Label Information by Melanie Brunson

On July 9, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-144, 126 Stat. 993).  One provision of this act authorized the U.S. Access Board to convene a stakeholder working group to develop best practices for making information on prescription drug container labels accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired or who are elderly. The intent was that these best practices would be used voluntarily by pharmacies to ensure that blind and visually impaired individuals have safe, consistent, reliable, and independent access to the information on prescription drug container labels.
 
The working group was organized and met several times beginning in January of this year.  ACB, the Council of Citizens with Low Vision (CCLVI) and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) were among the advocacy organizations who participated in the working group.  There were equal numbers of representatives from disability organizations and the pharmaceutical industry.  The group issued its report in July 2013.  Soon, the National Council on Disability will conduct an informational and educational campaign in cooperation with the stakeholder working group to inform the public, including people with disabilities and pharmacists, of the best practices contained in the group's report. The Government Accountability Office will undertake a review beginning 18 months after the date of this report to assess the extent to which pharmacies are following the best practices and to what extent barriers to information on prescription drug container labels remain.
 
In the meantime, the next step is up to us, the consumers of prescription drugs, who need access to the information on the containers in which we receive those drugs.  We need to go to the pharmacies that fill our prescriptions, let them know about these best practices, and ask them to implement them in their pharmacy in order to give us access to the information we need.  In order to give you, the readers of this article, the tools you need to do this, I will provide a summary of the best practices section of the Access Board's report.
 
Some of the best practices noted in the report are simple practices that can benefit any pharmacy patron, regardless of disability.  For instance, pharmacists are urged to advertise a local or, when possible, a toll-free telephone number to promote communication between patients and pharmacists.  If pharmacy web sites and applications (apps) are made available to patients, they should also ensure web site and app accessibility. When a pharmacist observes a patient or patient representative having reading difficulty, she/he should offer education and counseling in a setting that maintains patient privacy.
 
The following is a list of additional best practices that are suggested in order to give people with disabilities and people who are elderly increased independent access to information about their medications:

  • Make available options for accessible prescription drug container labels in audible, braille, and large print formats via methods using, for example, hard copy, dedicated devices, and computers or smart devices.  Note: remember that this is not mandatory, and all pharmacies will not be able to make all options available, but the best practice is for pharmacies to work with patients to make available by these, or other mutually acceptable methods, an alternative form of access to the information on a traditional container label.
  • Explain to the patient the available accessible prescription drug container label format options, and provide the prescription drug container label in the format option selected by the patient.
  • Ensure that duplicate accessible labels preserve the integrity of the print prescription drug container label.  This is important so that both the patient and the pharmacist can identify what's in the container and verify the accuracy of the information about it.
  • Subject accessible prescription drug container labels to the same quality control processes used for print labels to ensure accuracy and patient safety.
  • Maintain patient privacy in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules when preparing accessible prescription drug container labels, e.g., record audible labels in a location where patient information cannot be overheard by unauthorized persons.
  • In advance, make arrangements to provide accessible prescription drug container labels. For example, maintain a sufficient inventory of supplies necessary to support timely provision of prescription drug container labels in accessible label formats.
  • Provide prescription medication with an accessible prescription drug label within the time frame the same prescription would be provided to patients without visual impairments.
  • Do not impose a surcharge or extra fee to an individual to cover the cost of providing an accessible drug container label and equipment dedicated for prescription drug container label access.
  • Ensure the durability of accessible label format options until the expiration date specified on the prescription drug container label.
  • Select a container that best supports the type of accessible label provided.
  • For all accessible label formats, including audible formats, ensure that all required information contained on the print prescription drug container label is provided on the accessible label in the same sequence as the print label.
  • Include in accessible prescription drug container labels the information on warning labels added to the container at the pharmacist's discretion.

The report also includes best practices specifically related to each of the possible accessible formats that are listed above.  Space does not allow us to include that much detail here, but anyone interested in reading the entire report can find it online at www.acb.org/node/1427.
 
Whether you read the entire report or not, all of us who use prescription medications should begin spreading the word about these best practices, particularly to those pharmacies from which we purchase those medications.  When the Government Accountability Office begins its investigation of the effectiveness of these practices, it would be very unfortunate if they discover that the biggest problem was that not enough people requested label information in accessible formats.  Pharmacies will need some time to implement these practices, but I urge you to join me in starting that process by talking to our own pharmacies about the specific accessible formats that would be helpful to us, so they will have a reason to find a way to provide it.  We will keep you posted on further developments, and as always, if you have questions, feel free to contact the ACB national office.

The Treaty of Marrakesh Explained by Maryann Diamond

This short document is written to explain the contents of The Treaty of Marrakesh (formal name: "The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities").  It covers the meaning and use of the main treaty contents.
 
This is deliberately a layman's explanation of the treaty - not an in-depth legal analysis.  The treaty looks complex to non-experts, but in fact WBU is happy, by and large, with what it allows us to do.

What's the Goal of the Treaty?

The goal of the treaty is to help to end the book famine faced by people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled.  Currently only some 1-7 percent of the world's published books ever make it into accessible formats. This is partly due to access barriers in copyright law - something the treaty helps to remove. It does that in two main ways.
 
Firstly, by requiring countries which ratify the treaty to have an exception to domestic copyright law for visually impaired and print-disabled people.  This means that countries which ratify the treaty must ensure their laws allow blind people and their organizations to make accessible format books without the need to ask permission first from the holder of copyright (e.g., author or publisher). 
 
Secondly, by allowing for import and export of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works, again without copyright holder permission.  This will help to avoid the duplication of transcription efforts in different countries, and also allow those with larger collections of accessible books to share these collections with visually impaired people in countries with fewer resources.
 
Only so-called "authorized entities," such as blind people's organizations, can send accessible books under the treaty's terms. However, the treaty allows accessible books to be imported/received either by other "authorized entities" or directly by visually impaired/print-disabled individuals.
 
Here is an outline of what the most relevant articles in the treaty mean:
 
Article 2(a). Works Covered. Refers to the type of publications which can be transcribed/distributed under the terms of the treaty.
 
These are: "literary and artistic works … in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations, whether published or otherwise made publicly available in any media."
 
The definition therefore covers books, periodicals and other similar textual works, as well as sheet music.  It doesn't cover films.  The treaty does not allow for the contents of a work to be changed (e.g., to "easy read"); rather, just for the work's contents to be transcribed into an accessible format.
 
Article 2(b). Defines the term "accessible format copy."
 
This is a broad definition which does not limit the format or the technique you use to make a book accessible. It allows whichever format will provide access to the work "as feasibly and comfortably as a person without visual impairment or other print disability."
 
Article 2(c). Defines the term "authorized entity."  The role of the authorized entity is critical in the treaty, and it's a straightforward definition.  It's a non-profit or government agency that makes accessible copies of works, and limits distribution of those copies to people with bona fide disabilities, which it calls "beneficiary persons." It also covers for-profit entities that provide services to beneficiary persons using public funds and on a non-profit basis.
 
There is no specific process or approval mechanism to qualify as an authorized entity. Meeting the (broad) criteria in Article 2(c) is sufficient.
 
Article 3.  Defines "beneficiary persons."  It's a broad definition that includes just about any disability that interferes with the effective reading of printed material.  It includes people who are blind, visually impaired, reading disabled (example: dyslexia) or have a physical disability that gets in the way of effectively holding a book, turning pages or focusing on the page.
 
Article 4.  Requires countries which ratify the treaty to enact a domestic copyright exception. This will allow authorized entities to make accessible copies of works without having to ask permission from the rights holders. This is satisfied by having a law like the "Chafee Amendment" in the U.S., or one of the exceptions to copyright law for print disabled people the EU Member States have enacted under the terms of the EU Copyright Directive.
 
Articles 5 and 6.  The treaty permits the cross-border exchange of accessible format books, both between authorized entities and directly from one authorized entity to individuals in other countries.
 
Article 7. Technological Protection Measures ("TPMs").  These are the sort of "digital padlocks" that publishers (and sometimes blind people's organizations themselves) put on a digital book, to stop it being passed on or accessed illegally.  Unfortunately this padlock can also inadvertently block legitimate access by print-disabled people, for instance those using screen-reading text-to-speech software. Article 7 therefore says it should be legal to circumvent (i.e., break) TPMs so that a person with a print disability can get access to books. (And only for that purpose.)
 
Article 8.  Requires privacy to be respected when using the treaty.
 
Other Noteworthy Provisions in the Treaty
 
Respect for copyright holders' interests: Article 2 of the treaty makes it clear that accessible books sent under its provisions should be solely for the use of "beneficiary persons." It asks also that "authorized entities" take "due care" when handling these books, and that they discourage the reproduction and distribution of unauthorized copies.  These are reasonable requirements.
 
Commercial availability of accessible format books: One of our big concerns going into the treaty negotiation was that the treaty might require that you could only send or receive books in accessible formats where they were not deemed to already be available commercially in that format. Meeting such an obligation would have been impossible in practice and rendered the treaty very difficult or impossible to use. This concept survived in the treaty in a much weaker form, which allows countries to choose to have a commerciality requirement in their national copyright law, which some countries like Singapore and Australia already do have.  Such countries have to let WIPO know formally that their domestic law requires a commerciality test, and also whether they intend it to affect imports of accessible materials into that country from elsewhere.   There is no "commercial availability" requirement for exporters of accessible books.
 
The "Three Step Test": This is a concept well-known to international copyright law experts, but few others. It caused a lot of concern among advocates concerned that it might be a Trojan horse for more extensive commercial availability requirements.  It appears all over the treaty, but we don't think it is likely to get in the way of helping blind people except in rare situations.

The Treaty Across the World

With a concerted effort for widespread ratification and implementation, the treaty will have a huge impact on accessibility for people with print disabilities.  It should both promote the domestic production of accessible materials in each country, as well as provide access to books produced elsewhere.  This will be important for books in languages that cross national boundaries, languages like English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Bangla/Bengali, Indonesian, Swahili and so on.  It will also be especially important for countries that haven't traditionally had robust services for people with disabilities: these less wealthy countries should benefit greatly from access to the extensive collections developed in wealthier and larger countries.

Conclusion

In plain language, this is a treaty that should start to remedy the book famine.  It provides a crucial legal framework for adoption of national copyright exceptions in countries that lack them.  It creates an international import/export regime for the exchange of accessible books across borders.  It is necessary for ending the book famine, but it is not sufficient.  Countries need to sign, ratify and implement its provisions.  Non-profit organizations, libraries, educational institutions and government need to take advantage of these provisions to actually deliver the accessible books people with disabilities need for education, employment and full social inclusion.  The World Blind Union will work with our colleagues and supporters all over the world to implement the treaty and fully end the book famine for people with print disabilities.

Brenda Dillon: Keeping Her Spirit Alive by Sara Conrad

When I was asked to write this memoir for Brenda Dillon, I pondered where to begin. Should I tell you about her tireless advocacy efforts? How about her contributions to the leadership in ACB and its affiliates? Certainly, Brenda Dillon made immeasurable impacts within the blindness community as well as disabled communities across the country. Many of us experienced her enthusiasm for fundraising, her heart for service, and her diligence in every project. Her obituary explains many of the adventures Brenda enjoyed as she paved a way for blind and visually impaired people, overcoming obstacles and standing up for the defenseless every time.
 
Still, there was far more to Brenda Dillon than the outer shell of an advocate, leader, and colleague. Many of us knew Brenda on a personal level, Brenda our friend. During her 58 wonderful years of life, Brenda was a loving wife, mother, and supporter; she was a foster mom for many children and was very involved in her church. This was all apparent at her memorial service, as blind and sighted friends came together, sharing light-hearted and insightful stories of the many marks Brenda made on this world.
 
That said, all of these relationships can be found in previous articles and speeches about Brenda; many people have written and spoken about her dedication. There was far more to Brenda Dillon's impact on us than can be explained in mere words. I will, however, try to share some of the less obvious qualities Brenda possessed.
 
First, Brenda had a heart for others, especially the younger generations. Brenda spent many years as an advisor to ACB Students and as a mentor to future ACB leaders. She took it upon herself to encourage future lawyers, teachers, and professionals from the blindness community, making it clear that students do not need sight to have a vision. Brenda's personal mission for student success has seen many students through undergraduate and graduate studies and helped connect young people to ACB, a place to belong.
 
In addition to her undying love for students, Brenda was as genuine as humanly possible. She was never afraid to stick up for the underdog, as long as she believed in their story. Brenda supported people and organizations who would otherwise fall "under the radar." Her focus was always on justice and fairness rather than popularity or power. Instead, she used whatever power she gained from those who saw her genuine heart to extend her gifts and talents in support of those in need. Brenda was a true warrior for those who could not fight for themselves and an honest friend to all.
 
The final quality that comes to mind when thinking of Brenda Dillon was her faith; Brenda was never without determination or passion for success, whether in advocacy efforts, raising and sustaining a family, or battling cancer. She was a woman of prayer and insight, reaching out to the faith of others in difficult times. It is said that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains, and Brenda saw many mountains move due to her unending perseverance. She never left a job unfinished. After all, many noted that Brenda died at the exact moment her term as vice president of ACB was completed. As I do not believe in coincidences, I found this to be our comic relief in losing her, a smile to remember her persistent participation in all areas of life.
 
Although all of these attributes speak to Brenda's character, I want to close with a personal tribute to her. I had the honor of working with Brenda Dillon for four years in ACB. These four years were not average years of one's life; these were my four years of undergraduate studies.
 
I met Brenda at the 2009 ACB convention in Orlando, Fla. I was a scholarship winner traveling on my own for the first time, and I found myself amidst a sea of blind and visually impaired people I did not know. I received my registration information, and glancing at the calendar, saw that there would be a 5K walk and run the next morning. I thought to myself, "I've done fundraisers like this before. I'll just show up and see if I can participate." I met the small group of ACB participants in the hotel lobby, the first of whom to greet me being Brenda Dillon. I'll never forget her big smile and unmatchable excitement when she heard a student was attending the walk. Needless to say, I received the trophy for youngest participant at the walk in Orlando as well as at the walk the following year in Phoenix. I will add that the ACB board of directors proudly changed the walk's name to the Brenda Dillon ACB Memorial Walk, beginning with the walk next July in Las Vegas.
 
While I was uncertain of my travel and independence abilities that first convention in Orlando, I was even more unaware of the bond I'd share with Brenda. Over the following years, she became one of the most influential people in my life. I was elected secretary of ACB Students that summer in Orlando and was president for the following three years. During that time, Brenda mentored our various committees as well as our board, sharing her experiences in leadership and nonprofit work. More than that, she shared her love.
 
Brenda was the woman anyone could turn to in time of need. I recall my first time attending the midyear presidents' meeting and legislative seminar in Arlington, Va. I was 19 years old at the time, just a sophomore in college. After many flight delays due to snowy weather (the joys of flying from Michigan in February), I finally arrived at the hotel around 2:30 a.m. Although I had made my hotel reservation, I was told by the hotel staff that I could not stay there, as I was under 21. The matter was resolved after a call to my sleepily awoken parents. The next morning, still flustered from my journey and awaiting the arrival of my luggage that was still in Detroit, I shared my story with my fellow ACB colleagues. Brenda proceeded to put her hands on her hips and lecture me, scolding me for not calling her in the middle of the night to help. She said, "Darlin', don't you know I'm your convention mama?" She was exactly that, the person I, and others, could turn to for any problem. Needless to say, I always contacted Brenda in the future for any travel needs!
      
Besides showing Brenda's comical and exuberant personality, these are just two of many stories within the tapestry of Brenda Dillon's life. Her joy, grace, energy, and influence will remain ever present in our organization and our hearts.
 
In closing, I want to offer an opportunity for everyone to share their stories about Brenda Dillon. I am compiling memories, no matter how large or small, into a book. Brenda touched so many lives, and we must treasure these moments. Please send your memories of Brenda, humorous, serious, or something in between, to treasurer@acbstudents.org by Oct. 15. Please include photos of Brenda if you have them as well. Together, we can keep Brenda's spirit and spunk alive in ACB forever.
 
See photos on this page.

Readers' Memories of Brenda Dillon

I know all of us will remember Brenda's delightful laugh and spirit, and we can keep our memories of her close to our hearts in comfort.
 
Dan, our thoughts and prayers are with you as you struggle to adjust to the loss in your life of Brenda's love, spirit, enthusiasm and partnership in all you did together.
 
Brenda, friend, be with our Lord in peace!
 
- Kim Charlson, Watertown, Mass.
 
Many people come and go in our lives. Brenda is one whose life has touched me so profoundly that I know she'll be with me always. Soon after I first met her, we knew we were kindred spirits, both the forever optimist and lover of people, both ready and willing to give and do. I remember back in 2005, at the ACB convention, she spoke on my behalf as I ran for a position on the BOP for ACB. The challenge was that elections took place the day after expected and I had to fly back home for a family commitment. During her nominating speech, despite the fact that everyone told me there was no chance I could win if I wasn't there, Brenda enthusiastically promoted me, and even convinced the majority that the value I placed in family was a good reason for me not being there, and I was elected. Together we worked on many projects and just found joy in each other's company. She is the first and only person since my grandma that called me Cindygirl, and it always sounded so sweet from her lips.
 
I loved hearing her sing. I loved her passion and professionalism as she worked, and her creative ideas. I'll always remember how she'd show me the sequins or other details on her outfit and describe what she was wearing, from shoes to hair accents. She was not prideful, but took pride in all she did. She was a mentor, friend, and treasure on earth who I know is now singing with the angels, rocking with her granny, and most importantly, seeing her precious Jesus. I thank you, Brenda, for being all you were here, while praising God for giving us such a blessing, you. I will miss you, Brenda, until we meet again, my friend.
 
- Cindy Van Winkle, Bremerton, Wash.
 
There are many of us who feel the loss of Brenda, even if we didn't have the close friendship that you did with her. She had a way of challenging us all to do a little better, but in a spirit of encouragement and without any superior attitude. I remember hearing how she out-argued the NFB's Fred Schroeder when he came to Tennessee as Commissioner of RSA. I would love to have been there.
 
Marlaina certainly knows that she has, as the saying goes, big shoes to fill, but I am confident she will meet the challenge with the same hard work, optimism and determination as with secretary for the previous six years.
 
- Albert Anderson, Chicago, Ill.
 
I can't think of very many people who possess the level of enthusiasm, optimism and love for life that she brought to everything she did. As others have already said, she will be sorely missed by us all.
 
- Ron Brooks, Phoenix, Ariz.
 
Brenda's enthusiasm for life and moreover for ACB was very contagious.  No matter what Brenda was doing on behalf of ACB, you knew immediately that she was going to make it happen and with gusto.  My first impression of Brenda came at a CCLVI game night several years ago during trivia.
 
She will be sorely missed and I offer my condolences to Dan and family.
 
- Richard Rueda, Union City, Calif.

The ADA Turns 23: A Call to Action

The National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA) is led by 14 national organizations (including the American Council of the Blind) that are run by people with disabilities with identifiable grassroots constituencies around the country.  Below you will find the statement NDLA released to mark the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
Statement of the National Disability Leadership Alliance on the 23rd Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act
 
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 - This week, people with disabilities across the country are celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This was the first comprehensive federal civil rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities.  The ADA established that people with disabilities have equal opportunity in employment, state and local government, places of public accommodation, and telecommunications. 
 
Despite the ADA's promise of equal opportunity for people with disabilities, it is clear that more work must be done so that people with disabilities are to be valued as equal citizens and welcomed in all aspects of American life.  Today, far too many people with disabilities are forced to live in institutions, forced to receive unwanted treatment, denied programs and services, or to be paid less than minimum wage.  On a regular basis, our civil, constitutional, and parental rights are disregarded or stripped away. 
 
Our lives and expertise are not valued equally – with dire consequences.  Healthcare professionals refuse to communicate with us, overrule the decisions we make or those made by our authorized surrogates; law enforcement and the courts too often fail to treat those who kill people with disabilities the same as those who kill non-disabled people, particularly when an individual has been killed by a family member.
 
Our very freedom of movement can be deprived and our rights stripped from us on the basis of arbitrary and capricious decisions about our capacity.  Furthermore, the voices of people with disabilities are frequently ignored in favor of parent and provider organizations that speak about us, without us.  Policymakers have ignored our expertise about our own lives, issues and desires, instead allowing providers, academics and family members to speak for us even though we may have very different priorities and interests.  For those in the disability community from diverse communities, the discrimination that they face as people with disabilities is compounded by issues of race, gender, religious affiliation and sexual orientation.

Call to Action

The Americans with Disabilities Act became law because the disability community rallied together in an unprecedented way.  We must now work together again to take the next step in advancing our rights, including the following:

  • We must assure that America's 57 million people with disabilities are able to participate fully in society by updating accessibility standards, including those related to non-visual access by people who are blind and non-auditory access by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, to address newly developing technologies and assuring that people with disabilities have access to the modern assistive devices necessary to fully participate in American life, from hearing aids to screen readers to complex rehab technology. 
  • We must assure that people with disabilities have real economic opportunities by eliminating  the discriminatory employment laws and rules that allow people with disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage, by creating incentives for employers for hiring and promotion of people with disabilities, by expanding customized, supported work opportunities including self-employment, paid community service, job restructuring and other flex arrangements and by fostering new opportunities for youth with disabilities transitioning from school that promote competitive integrated employment. 
  • We must strengthen the ADA's integration mandate so that people with disabilities have the services and supports they need to live in their own homes and apartments in the communities of their choosing.  We must end the institutional bias in the Medicaid program by requiring that every state participating in Medicaid pay for home- and community-based services so that every individual who is eligible for Long Term Services and Supports under Medicaid is guaranteed their federally protected right to a real choice in how they receive services and supports.  We must reform the services and support systems that are now based on arbitrary medical or governmental labels to remove conflicts with the principles laid out in the ADA and assure that people with disabilities have the opportunity for full integration by developing and funding service and support approaches that promote the cross-disability and "most integrated setting" concepts that underpin the ADA.  
  • We must assure that people with disabilities – including those with chemical or electrical sensitivities – are able to access the full range of affordable, accessible and integrated housing options in the communities of their choosing.  We must assure that all newly constructed, federally assisted single-family homes and townhouses include basic accessibility so that these homes are not being built to exclude people with mobility disabilities. 
  • We must end our broken and arbitrary system of guardianship and substituted decision-making, in accordance with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For too long, the legal capacity of people with disabilities who require assistance with their finances and/or healthcare or who have expressed desires inconsistent with those possessed by their family members have been permanently stripped and denied to them. By putting in place a stronger infrastructure for supported decision-making, our community can facilitate the provision of support where people require it while not requiring a loss of legal capacity as a pre-condition for receiving such support.  Additionally, we must work to restore the legal capacity and rights of the many people with disabilities who currently suffer under a system of guardianship with no acknowledgement of, or recognition for, the preferences of people with disabilities independent of their guardians. 
  • We must assure that the lives of people with disabilities of all ages are equally valued, protected, cared for and preserved as the lives of non-disabled people.  Healthcare providers must always communicate with people with disabilities including through interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services to ensure equivalent healthcare services.  Healthcare providers must never use perceived quality of life judgments, the cost of care, or other factors to overrule the decision to receive life-sustaining healthcare made by a person with a disability or their authorized surrogate.  Healthcare providers must also zealously provide suicide prevention services for people with disabilities of all ages that are equivalent to the suicide prevention services they provide for non-disabled people.  As such, we should never encourage or provide the means for any individual to commit suicide. 
  • We must assure that violence in any form against people with disabilities is not tolerated, and the prosecution and sentencing for homicides of people with disabilities must be treated in the same manner as homicides of people without disabilities.  With the recent addition of disability as a protected class under the federal hate crimes statute, federal investigators and prosecutors must work to bring cases against those who take the lives of people with disabilities because of their disability, particularly when the perpetrators are a member of the victim's own family.  We must assure that adequate funding is provided to support programs that assist people with disabilities who are victims of crime, including training for first responders, the creation of accessible shelters, and victim rights programs. We must ensure that the justice system is accessible to people with disabilities, using the ADA as a tool to support restorative justice.  We must develop strong working relationships between the disability community and the justice system to address violence against people with disabilities. 
  • We must assure that the constitutional and civil rights of people with disabilities of all ages are safeguarded, particularly with respect to self-determination and direct communication.  It is critical that these safeguards are in place regardless of the individual's actual or perceived capacity to make and communicate their own decisions.  People with disabilities should not be subjected to forced treatment – including forced medication and hospitalization, and disability should never be used as a reason to diminish or remove our rights as parents. 
  • We must protect children with disabilities from the use of aversives (painful stimulation used as negative reinforcement), as well as seclusion and restraints in schools by establishing strong, comprehensive national standards, an effective enforcement mechanism and the involvement of the disability community on effective alternatives for positive behavior change. 
  • We must protect and vigorously enforce accessibility requirements in the Help America Vote Act so that every American can vote privately and independently and so that poll workers have the training they need. 
  • We must create a bipartisan Congressional Task Force on human genetic technologies and disability rights to ensure that research and the results of research on these technologies include the voice of people with disabilities.   
  • We must confront and condemn organizations that speak about people with disabilities without us. Too often, organizations run without the voices of the people they purport to serve, lobby policymakers to deprive the rights of people with disabilities, silence the voices of organizations run by people with disabilities and place their own ideologies and financial self-interests before the real needs and preferences of our community. Policymakers must acknowledge the necessity of hearing the voices of organizations run by and for people with disabilities as the primary stakeholder in policy discussions about disability, and people with disabilities must have substantive involvement in making the policy decisions that impact our lives.  Finally, we must expand and support with funding the disability-led peer support and advocacy organizations that truly empower people with disabilities instead of channeling funds into outdated medical model organizations. 

Moving Forward

Since 2008, leaders from the organizations that make up the National Disability Leadership Alliance have developed strong working relationships with each other.  We understand the power our community has by working together more effectively on a common agenda.  We are preparing detailed recommendations that propose administrative and legislative approaches to achieve the goals we describe above.  We are also expanding our national community by organizing teleconference calls to use them to promote greater understanding of these issues, to explain how we are all impacted by them, and to explore strategies to work together to achieve the necessary changes.
 
As we celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the ADA, excitement is already building and planning has already begun for the quarter century anniversary.  Today, we call on policymakers to work with us to achieve this vision so that – on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act – we will not just be celebrating disability rights victories from a quarter-century earlier, but heralding a new day in our movement.

California Council of the Blind Sues Alameda County over Barriers to Voting

A class action lawsuit filed July 25, 2013 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that the County of Alameda discriminates against voters who are blind and visually impaired. Voting privately and independently is one of the most fundamental and cherished American rights. Yet Alameda County denies voters with disabilities this basic right because it fails to ensure that voting machines with accessible features are functioning properly on Election Day.
 
The lawsuit seeks to compel the county to ensure that blind and visually impaired voters are able to privately and independently vote using accessible voting machines during elections. The suit was brought by California Council of the Blind and five blind registered voters in the County of Alameda. Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit disability rights legal center that specializes in high-impact class actions. 
 
Blind voters in Alameda County encountered problems with the audio and tactile features of voting machines during the November 2012 general election. After poll workers could not fix these problems, blind voters were forced to dictate their votes to others instead of voting independently. Some of the voters who faced these barriers traveled to alternate poll sites. After experiencing similar problems with voting machines at alternate sites, they were also forced to share their ballot selections with others.
 
Plaintiff Richard Rueda is blind and resides in Union City. Rueda, a registered voter in Alameda County, said, "It was frustrating to find problems with voting machines at my designated poll site as well as an alternate site during the November 2012 general election. These barriers prevented me from voting independently on Election Day."
 
Counties throughout California and across the country use voting machines equipped with tactile controls and text-to-speech audio software that enable voters with disabilities to privately enter their ballot selections during elections. When functioning properly, these machines read the on-screen ballot information aloud via headphones and allow blind voters to independently input ballot choices using tactile controls.
 
Although July 26, 2013 is the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities are still struggling to have equal access to the most fundamental of our constitutional rights – the right to vote.
 
Donna Pomerantz, president of the California Council of the Blind, said, "It's astounding that on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people who are blind and visually impaired are still fighting for equal rights to something as basic as voting. Technology exists to make voting fully accessible to people who are visually impaired."
 
To ensure that accessible voting machines function properly on Election Day, counties must train poll workers on the appropriate set-up and use of the machines. The accessible features of these machines must be tested to ensure their effectiveness prior to opening the machines to the public on Election Day. Poll workers should also have reliable access to technical support services to handle concerns as they arise on Election Day.
 
Plaintiff Lisamaria Martinez is blind and resides in Union City. Martinez, a registered voter in Alameda County, said, "As an American, I want to fully participate in the democratic process and vote independently and privately in public elections as my sighted peers do."
 
Unless the county takes steps to maintain fully functioning machines, the county will continue to deny blind and visually impaired voters the right to vote privately and independently during elections.
 
Stuart Seaborn, senior staff attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, said, "Voters with disabilities have lower levels of turnout for elections than people without disabilities. Forcing voters to dictate their votes to third parties only further discourages people with disabilities from voting."

'Where's My Braille Forum?'

Have you been missing your "ACB Braille Forum"?  The summer issues were published electronically. Below are the tables of contents from the June, July and August issues.  These issues of the Forum are available on www.acb.org/. You can also find them on the NFB Newsline for at least a month after the issue has gone out.  If you would like a hard copy (large print or braille) of an article, contact Sharon Lovering at the ACB national office, 1-800-424-8666, or via e-mail, slovering@acb.org.
 
If you aren't an e-mail subscriber, but would like to be, go to www.acb.org/mailman/listinfo/brailleforum-L. Type in your e-mail address and name in the boxes where it asks for them.
 
For your information, the October issue will be electronic; November (the convention review issue), hard copy; and December, electronic.

June 2013

President's Message: Will There Ever Be A Unified Organized Blind Movement?, by Mitch Pomerantz
 
Looking for a Few Good Advocates, by Melanie Brunson
 
Countdown to Convention, by Janet Dickelman
 
The Candidates' Page Is Back!
 
The Universe Can Be Yours at the Exploration Party Auction
 
Nearing the Finish Line: Show Your Support for the 5th Annual ACB Walk!, by Rebecca Bridges
 
Extra, Extra! Convention Newspaper Now Seeking Volunteers
 
Affiliate News
 
Committee News
 
Passings
 
Summary of the Midyear Board Meeting, by Paul Edwards
 
No Easy Answers for Long-Term Care, by Ron Pollack
 
Will We Ever Gain Access to Game Consoles?, by Anthony James
 
Apathy or Advocacy: Which Shall We Choose?, by Larry P. Johnson
 
Letter to the Editor
 
A Dream Come True: 'Roots, Reflections, and Role Models,' by Sila Miller
 
Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
 
High Tech Swap Shop
 
Pears, by John Lee Clark

July 2013

President's Message: A Turn of the Page, by Mitch Pomerantz
 
ACB Information Access Committee Chair Testifies before Senate HELP Committee, by Melanie Brunson, with Eric Bridges and Brian Charlson
 
2013 Conference and Convention: Discovering How to Stay in Touch, by Janet Dickelman
 
World News and Information Now Available on ACB Radio, by Marlaina Lieberg
 
Remembering Janiece, by Peter Altschul
 
Readers' Memories of Janiece Petersen Kent
 
In Memory of Patricia La France Wolf, A True Friend, by Teddie-Joy Remhild
 
Readers' Memories of Pat Wolf
 
Update from GDUI on Guide Dog Schools
 
Can Medicare Save Money for Beneficiaries & Taxpayers Alike?, by Ron Pollack
 
How to Encourage Newly Blind Individuals That It's OK to be Blind, compiled by Ardis Bazyn
 
Repeated Interaction Is the Best Way to Understand Disabled, by Larry P. Johnson
 
It's What You Do with What You Got, by Carl Jarvis
 
Paddling for a Cure, by Sharon Lovering
 
The If/Then Promise, by Marilyn Brandt Smith
 
Affiliate News
 
Letter to the Editor
 
Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
 
High Tech Swap Shop

August 2013

ACB Announces Election of Its First Woman President
 
Changes to Come in the ACB National Office, by Melanie Brunson
 
A Fond Farewell to Columbus, by Janet Dickelman
 
American Council of the Blind Announces Audio Description Awards, by Joel Snyder
 
The PR Committee's Affiliate Brochure Contest … And the Results!, by Sharon Lovering, Gaylen Floy, and Sara Conrad
 
Weight Watchers Announces Accessibility Initiative for Blind and Visually Impaired Members
 
Landmark Decision A Victory for All Blind Canadians, by Donna J. Jodhan
 
Different Views: Don't Let Blindness Rob You, by Ernest Jones
 
Beyond Basic Medicare: Understanding Medicare Supplemental Coverage, by Ron Pollack
 
If It's Not Broke, Why Fix It? The State of Our Guide Dog Training in the U.S., by Dan Kysor
 
In Memoriam: Leroy Johnson, Oct. 6, 1936-June 14, 2013
 
Affiliate News
 
Letter to the Editor
 
Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
 
High Tech Swap Shop

How to Get the Most from Your Vision Rehabilitation Experience by Doug Powell

(Editor's Note: Doug Powell is the chairman of the rehabilitation issues task force. You may reach him via e-mail, doug.powell.oldjock@gmail.com, or by phone, (703) 573-5107.)
 
Just about everyone reading this has had some interaction with the rehabilitation system (or will in the future).  To be clear, I'm speaking here of VISION rehabilitation … drug and alcohol rehab will have to be addressed elsewhere by someone else!  Whether you are a parent of a blind or visually impaired child, a student, or an adult, most of you have had some interaction with the Department of Vision Services (it will be called different names in different states).  Some have had good experiences, and some not so good.  And I venture to guess that very few know how to make lasting improvements.  We on the rehab issues task force are trying to demystify the system and make sure you know what avenues are available to make improvements to your own experience and advocate for change to improve the experiences of those who come after you.  The intent here is to give information to those wishing to receive services on what to expect and what their commitment should be to create the most successful outcomes.  Affiliate leaders will also find information on how to successfully coach members and potential members through the rehabilitation process.

Your Input into Your Own Rehabilitation Experience

From the beginning of your interaction with the Department of Blind Services, you will enter into a partnership with the rehabilitation professionals to help you live an independent, fulfilling life as a blind or visually impaired person.  If you are not trying to keep the job you are presently doing, or not seeking another job, you are eligible for some services and perhaps some adaptive equipment that will help you in your daily living - services such as learning how to get around your home, neighborhood, and town by yourself; learning how to cook and clean with limited sight; how to access reading materials such as newspapers, magazines, and books; and other helpful skills.  If you are seeking to keep your current job or get another, you will be eligible for the services mentioned above plus training and equipment that will help you in the type of job you are interested in getting or keeping.
 
Whether you are looking for work or not, the first step is to make sure you are eligible for services.  A health care professional must give you a written explanation of your visual problem, its extent, and any prognosis whether it will get better or worse in the future.  You will have to request this from your doctor and make sure it gets to the office where you are applying for rehabilitation services.
 
Next, a rehab counselor will sit down with you and discuss with you what your goals are, what services are available, and eventually come to an agreement on a plan to attain your goals.  This plan is called an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE).  It can be amended later, but it is really the blueprint for what you and the rehab professionals will be working on to get you along your path to becoming a successful blind or visually impaired person.  You may have another person at these meetings to help you advocate for what you need.  Contact your local or state affiliate to find someone to be your advocate.  Try to set this up well in advance of your meeting so that you and your ACB advocate can discuss and perhaps clarify your goals and the kinds of services you might need.
 
Some suggestions on employability:

  • It's easy, when someone asks what you want to do, to dream really big.  It is also easy, when confronting your vision loss and the fear that you can't do things the way you used to, to dream too small.  Perhaps this is where an ACB advocate can help you define job possibilities.
  • Be flexible. You may not be able to continue being an airplane pilot, but there may be other jobs in aviation that you can do.
  • You may increase your employment opportunities by changing where you live.  Proximity to work centers and public transportation should be considered as you prepare for the rest of your life as a person with significant sight impairment.

After the plan has been developed and agreed upon, your counselor will start setting up the services you need, and those specialists will be contacting you to set up appointments.  You can get the most out of these training opportunities by:

  • Being ready for each appointment;
  • Giving your whole attention to the content of the session;
  • Practicing during the session and between sessions; and
  • Being open to trying, and being clear about possible safety issues.

Remember that quite often, new learning only takes place when you step outside your comfort zone.  On the other hand, everyone has their own limits on how far they are willing to step outside those zones, and it is your responsibility to communicate with your rehab professional to optimize the acquisition of alternative skills that will make you a confident, competent member of society.  A key component of these conversations and the partnership you have with your teachers and counselor is "informed consent."  The law mandates that rehabilitation professionals must tell you the options that are available so that you and they can come to an agreement on how best to attain your goals.  Some rehab professionals are better than others at this, so it might take some questions on your part to find out options.  Your ACB advocate may be helpful here.

Mentoring

There is research currently going on regarding the effectiveness of mentoring in attaining successful employment.  But even without definitive proof, common sense suggests that having someone to talk to, compare notes with, and bounce ideas off will shorten your transition to a confident, independent, and successful sight-impaired member of your community. Contact your ACB affiliate to find someone in your state, or perhaps in your profession, willing to mentor you.  ACB has many special-interest affiliates, several of which are focused on specific professions.  You can also contact members of the rehabilitation issues task force for help.

Upcoming Topics

We hope to have more information available in the future for other aspects of the rehabilitation system and how to advocate for improvements.  Topics will include: citizen input into vocational rehabilitation, what to do when your rehabilitation isn't going the way you think it should, and why having representation on state rehabilitation councils is important.  Since there seems to be interest in reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act (long overdue), we'll try to keep leaders and members informed on proposed changes and what that will mean to us. Good luck on your path!

2013 ACB Membership Seminar compiled by Ardis Bazyn

(Editor's Note: Ardis Bazyn is the chairman of the membership committee.)
 
On July 10, the membership committee held its annual convention seminar with the theme: "How to create teamwork to improve productivity in your chapter/affiliate." The first panel topic was "How to handle difficult situations and resolve conflicts." Panel members were: Kenneth Semien Sr. (Texas); Sally Benjamin (Florida), and Donna Pomerantz (California).
 
Donna mentioned the process used in California to decide if the long-time practice of two conventions should be changed to one convention per year. She explained how the issue was presented as a constitutional amendment a few years ago and it did not pass. However, the second time the issue surfaced, more attention was given to publicizing teleconference meetings and then discussion at a convention. The pros and cons of the possible change were made and a negative budget for a few years was cited as the primary reason for change. This ongoing process outlined what possible changes could be made in order for this move to one convention to work. Sally talked about an e-mail list issue in Florida, where very negative comments were made about a member. The board immediately asked for those on the list to participate in a conference call so members could freely tell how this situation could be resolved positively. She thought the problem diminished because they didn't ignore it but dealt with it immediately. Kenneth addressed how to minimize possible board conflict by starting each meeting with a short team activity. He said teamwork requires seven traits: positive attitude toward challenges, accountability for follow-through, good communication skills, competition (push each other to action), ability to see the big picture, diplomatic and respectful actions, and willingness to work as a team player.
 
The second panel topic was "How to share board responsibilities and get working board members." George Holliday (Pennsylvania) and John McCann (Virginia) were panel members. George suggested asking members about their interests since each board member has to chair or serve as co-chair for a committee in Pennsylvania. Each committee has to set goals for the year. The chairs must have agendas, discuss projects, and present a report to the board before each meeting. He also said Pennsylvania has a candidates' page and forum so members won't vote for cronies unless they have the needed capabilities. John said it is important to have a passion for what you do for the organization, so it's good to cultivate passions in your members. He mentioned the needed qualities: people skills, following parliamentary procedure, mentoring, and asking hard questions. Members should be asked to do small tasks first.
 
The two affiliates which won the Affiliate Growth Awards were recognized. The affiliate with the largest growth in percentage was the South Dakota Association of the Blind. The affiliate with the highest growth in number of new members was ACB of Texas. The PR committee recognized the affiliates with the most outstanding brochures submitted to them. The winners were: first place, North Dakota Association of the Blind; second place, Washington Council of the Blind; and third place, Utah Council of the Blind. Two hand-outs were disseminated. They are below.
 
Building Good Relationships

  • Be direct and totally honest.
  • Quality communication is necessary.
  • Listen actively to all sides of an issue.
  • Understand others' expectations.
  • Reciprocity is expected.
  • Respect others' opinions.
  • Realize that everyone has different values.
  • Ask questions when controversy arises.
  • Ask why others feel differently.
  • Negotiation is necessary to be successful.
  • Listen without judgment when people speak.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Agree that disagreement is OK.
  • If there is a conflict or disagreement, elect someone to mediate.
  • When decisions are made, move forward without reservation.
  • Voting is important and members need to consider the best person for the job (whether they are able to do the job).

Reaching Blind and Visually Impaired Seniors
 
Seniors often don't want to identify as "blind" people so it's necessary to reach them where they are.

  • Make friends with your division of services older blind coordinator and suggest they advertise your meetings, and add your information to their web site.   
  • Leave brochures and business cards with ophthalmologists, audiologists, and sight/hearing impairment centers offices (especially those that specialize in cataracts and macular degeneration) and suggest distributing your meeting information and any resource lists.  
  • ­Contact your local senior centers, assisted living facilities and senior apartments, state or county aging and blindness committees, support groups, and eye-related conferences to suggest speakers from your chapter to explain the purpose of your group and the resources you can provide.
  • Find the Department on Aging and deaf-blind agency in your community and offer to assist them with blindness or low vision resources (including chapter contact information).
  • Your chapter could offer tip sheets with a list of resources that would interest those losing their sight. This information could be disseminated to social workers on staff at any agency.
  • Contact Ears for Eyes (1-800-843-6816) and order some of their audio recordings to distribute to newly blinded older people.
  • Ask some of your older members to choose one older newly blinded person to contact by phone and suggest helpful ideas for independent living learned from ACB.  
  • Ask your local Lions Clubs for help locating newly blind people and finding transportation to meetings.
  • Give award to a noteworthy VI senior in your community.
  • Provide a happy hour at local senior center.
  • Have an annual appreciation breakfast.
  • Have members try to get on radio interview shows.

Who Won the Apple iPad? by Dr. Ronald E. Milliman

(Editor's Note: Ron Milliman is the chairman of the monthly monetary support, or MMS, committee.)
 
Are you wondering who won the MMS committee's grand prize drawing this year for the 32-gig Apple iPad? Well, wonder no more.  
 
We were delighted to have Wal-Mart and the South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) contribute the funds so we could purchase a 32-gig Apple iPad as our grand prize for this year's MMS promotional campaign.  To be eligible to win the Apple iPad, you had to either join as a new MMS participant or increase the amount of your monthly contributions any time from the end of our 2012 convention held in Louisville through the conclusion of our 2013 convention held in Columbus, Ohio.  All of those participants were placed into a drawing for the Apple iPad. 
 
As soon as we got all of our data entered into a spreadsheet following the convention in Columbus, the winner was selected using a random number program to ensure total fairness and objectivity. Each eligible contributor was numbered, and the computer program selected the magic number 25.
 
Number 25 turned out to be Janet Dickelman of St. Paul, Minn.! Congratulations to Janet, and we certainly anticipate that she will get lots of good use out of her new iPad.
 
Once again, the campaign was very successful at bringing lots of new participants into the MMS program. We greatly appreciate everyone who contributes to the program, no matter how small or how large the contribution is. All contributions are important and they all add up to helping ACB and its affiliates.
 
We want to thank and recognize the following people who either became MMS Program contributors for the first time or increased the amount of their contributions during our 2012-2013 campaign. These people are: Sandra Anderson, Terrie Arnold, Pshon Barrett, Darlene Barton, Viola Bentson, Elaine Boykin, Ann Brash, Marie Brinas, Kathleen Brockman, Dawn Brooks, Lisa Brooks, Donna Brown, Margaret Buchmann-Garcia, Thomas       Burgunder, William Burgunder, Pamela Burns, Terry Camardelle, Annette Carter, Lynn Cawley, Linda Clark, Delia Clayton, Nickie Coby, Ed Crespin, J. Vernon Daigle, Bill Deatherage, Debbie Deatherage, Josephine DeFini, Kathy Devin, Janet Dickelman, Jay Doudna, Debbie Downey, Marcia Dresser, Casey Dutmer, Pamela Evans, Gaylen Floy, Richard Gardenhire, Ninetta Garner, Karen Gourgey, Chelle Hart, Jan Hawthorne, Mandi Holley, Marion Howell, Suzanne Howell, Edythe Huffman, Stephanie Hunolt, Linda Hunt, Ken Jessup, Richard Johnson, Marie Keane, Linda Klapak, James Kracht, Martin Kuhn, Jim Kvool, Patricia Land, John McCann, Dornetta McConnell, Carl McCoy, Barbara McDonald, Gary Messman, Kathy Millican, DeAnna Noriega, Ronald Ocken, Lerae Olesen, Tim Paul, Harlow Pease, Lynn Powers, Teddie-Joy Remhild, Max Robinson, Richard Rueda, Adam Ruschival, Rachel Schroeder, Deanna Scoggins, Gerry Slusher, Sandy Smith, Michael Smitherman, Dan Spoone, Pat Spoone, William Spoone, Lucinda Talkington, Dot Taylor, Linda Teixeira, Jeff Thom, Howard Thomas, James Thompson, Filo Tu, Eddie Turner, Mike Ulrich, Cindy Van Winkle, Penny Verity, James Warth, Joseph Wassermann, Judy Weidenborner, Sue Wesley, Sandra Wilbur, Bostwick Wyman, and Sheila Young.
 
During the 2012-2013 campaign year, we gained a total of 59 new contributors and had 47 increases. This brings our total enrollment in the ACB Monthly Monetary Support Program up to 267 members, which is another significant increase.  We are extremely pleased with everyone's participation.  We are continuing to make slow but steady progress. I sincerely thank all of you who have made this progress possible.
 
As chair of the MMS Committee, I also want to recognize the efforts of the members of our outstanding committee: Dan Spoone, Ray Campbell, Kathy Brockman, Mike Godino, Kenny Maddox, and Carla Ruschival.
 
An important factor that affects the success of our convention campaign is the location and staffing of our MMS table. This year our table was located inside the ACB exhibit area, right next to the ACB Mini Mall, which proved to be an excellent spot. Appreciation goes to the members of our MMS program committee and the people who assisted them staffing our MMS table during the convention. This includes: Kathy Brockman and her husband, Pat; Mike Godino and Lori Scharff; Ray Campbell and his helper Lynn Cawley; Dan and Leslie Spoone and their helper, Stephanie Hunolt, and my wife, Palma, who assisted me and is not only my right hand, but my entire life. We also thank Lane Waters, Nancy Becker and the rest of our wonderful staff in our Minnesota office for their extraordinary assistance throughout the entire year and during the convention. 
 
If you want to become a participant in this excellent, painless way of supporting an affiliate of your choice and ACB national at the same time, or to increase your current contribution, you can contact our Minnesota office, 1-800-866-3242, or contact me at (270) 782-9325, and we'll take care of whatever you need.  You can also go online; the form is available at www.acb.org/node/28#main-content.
 
Again, congratulations to Janet Dickelman for winning the Apple iPad. Now, who will be the winner next year? In order to win, you have to participate. So sign up and be a new contributor, or increase your current contribution. Maybe you'll be the next big winner!

Blind Student Learns to Read Braille with Lips by Alexis Lai

Reprinted from CNN.
 
(Editor's Note: To view the video of this article, go to www.cnn.com/2013/07/17/world/asia/hong-kong-blind-student-braille-lips/i....)
 
HONG KONG - Tsang Tsz-Kwan may look like an average student in Hong Kong with her standard-issue blue shift dress with a Chinese collar and sensible black shoes. But her ordinary appearance and shy manner mask a steely determination to triumph over tremendous odds.
 
She recently scored within the top 5 percent for nearly all her subjects in the city's college entrance examination - despite being blind and severely hearing-impaired from a young age. She also lacks sensitivity in her fingertips, which denies her the ability to feel the raised dots of braille characters.
 
Rather than admit defeat, the 20-year-old found an alternative way to read braille - with her lips.
 
"In Primary 1 (the equivalent of grade 1 in the United States), I noticed that she was always leaning forward," said Mee-Lin Chiu, a teacher at the Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired - the only special-needs school in Hong Kong dedicated to the blind. "She told me it was because she could read more clearly with her lips than her hands."
 
Tsang herself admitted: "I know it's not a common approach and it sounds rather strange. Even I myself don't know how it came about," she added, calling it "miraculous."
 
In actual fact, the lips, tongue, and fingertips are particularly adept at spatial discrimination - they can perceive two points that are only 1-3 millimeters apart, according to the classic anatomy text, "Field's Anatomy, Palpation and Surface Markings." In comparison, the legs or back of the hands can only detect two points with a separation of more than 50-100 millimeters.
 
While Tsang may not be the very first person to resort to lip-reading braille, she appears to be a rare case. "This is the first I have heard of someone being successful using the lips," said Diane Wormsely, a professor at North Carolina Central University who specializes in education for the visually impaired. Chiu also said that Tsang was the only student at Ebenezer to have used their lips - and is the sole case she is aware of in Hong Kong.
 
Lip-reading braille is not without its challenges, however. "Nobody could accept it in the beginning," Tsang said. "Even now, many people find it odd ... It's caused some embarrassment when I read in public places and in front of people that I don't have a close relationship with."
 
It also poses practical problems, as braille books are typically large and heavy. Nonetheless, Tsang said she is "grateful" to still have a way to learn about the world through the written word. Reading is one of her favorite pastimes - a source of intellectual stimulation and psychological refuge.
 
She also believes she can transcend her disabilities through hard work, determination, and the willingness to push herself outside of her comfort zone. "Without the courage to challenge myself, there is surely no possibility of success," she said.
 
At Ebenezer, her classes were comprised of only 10 students, whose shared disability enabled them to easily build close friendships. All materials were prepared in braille and teachers were specially trained to work with the blind.
 
But in Form 1 (the equivalent of grade 7 in the United States), Tsang decided to leave the comfort of Ebenezer and move to a regular secondary school, wanting to immerse herself in a more authentic, mainstream environment. "I have to facilitate my adaptation to society when I finish my studies and have to enter the workplace," she said.
 
Her transition to the city's Ying Wa Girls' School was not always easy. Classes were much larger and teachers did not have specialized training to work with blind students. Tsang had to send all printed materials to Ebenezer or the Hong Kong Society for the Blind for transcription into braille. Reading and writing took her twice the amount of time it did for her peers, she said.
 
She learned she had to be more independent and make a greater effort to express her feelings and needs with staff and students, who were welcoming but unaccustomed to dealing with a blind person.
 
One of her teachers, Kwong Ho-Ka, said that staff learned over time when to intervene to help her.
 
"If she needs something, she will let us know," Kwong said, adding that her fiercely independent student walked around the school campus unassisted, eschewing a walking stick and elevators and taking the stairs by herself.
 
Kwong, who clearly holds deep affection for her student, said that while Tsang was never bullied, social integration has been a gradual process. "She has friends, but she's not part of some big group. For example, a gaggle of girls may be chatting about pop culture, but it can be difficult for her to enter the conversation. She may not recognize who is speaking in overlapping conversations and she lacks familiarity with pop culture."
 
Attending class with the same cohort of students over the past three years has helped a lot, Kwong said, and students have learned to make an effort to include Tsang in conversations.
 
Tsang said that she has made close friends. "I am grateful for their acceptance of me as a normal member of their social circle and throughout these years, they have given me a great deal of support and encouragement."
 
While her academic feats - she scored 5**, the highest possible grade, for Chinese, English, and Liberal Studies, 5* for Chinese Literature and English Literature and 4 for Math - have won her much acclaim in Hong Kong, Tsang admits that she surprised herself. "I was really astonished and excited when I heard that my results in some of the subjects were far from my expectations," she said. "I felt my hard work this year has finally paid off."
 
She hopes to study translation at university starting this fall to have a "balanced development in both Chinese and English."
 
"Whenever I come across some thought-provoking and touching books, I really wish I could translate them into different languages so as to share them with more readers," she added.
 
As she embarks on the new phase of her hard-won education, Tsang remains matter-of-fact and philosophical. "The inconveniences and limitations [my impairments] bring will follow me my whole life ... and I must have the courage to face the facts ... I'm going to treasure what I still have. I would like to encourage everyone to have the courage and perseverance to go through all the ups and downs in our lives because I know everyone has their own difficulties. But one thing is for sure: where there's a will, there's a way."

The Girl with Bad Eyes by Donna W. Hill

Reprinted from Tutorspree Blog.
 
(Editor's Note: Donna W. Hill is a songwriter, recording artist, journalist and avid knitter. Learn about her novel, "The Heart of Applebutter Hill," and how she's using it to promote braille literacy at www.DonnaWHill.com.)

Blind Or Sighted?

In 1955, I became the first legally blind student in Pennsylvania's Easton Area School District. My brother and I were born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease. RP starts with night blindness and tunnel vision and leads to total blindness. At the time, people with disabilities were discouraged from participating in society. At best, we were good-deed opportunities. At worst, we were exploited without fear of repercussions.
 
Compared to other disabilities, blindness is relatively rare. People fear the unfamiliar. Families were advised to place their blind children in residential schools; keeping them at home would destroy the family. Aware of these realities, my mother refused to admit that we were legally blind. We just had "bad eyes."
 
My parents believed we were just as good as anyone else, deserved to live at home and attend school with our peers. The schools, however, weren't prepared for us. They didn't understand the nuances of vision loss. You were either blind or sighted. If you could see anything, you should "use your eyes." In other words, we were to read print and get around as best as we could. Braille, the white cane, and special needs tutors were never discussed. My parents, like many others, assumed the professionals knew best.

Out of Left Field

Initially, my remaining vision and the minimal demands of early elementary school allowed me to fake my way through. At the end of second grade, however, my teacher could no longer stand watching me struggle. When I walked into walls, fell down steps or stumbled over things that were below my line of sight, I could hold back the tears. But when Mrs. Rose took away my workbook, I was inconsolable.
 
The full impact of her actions wouldn't hit home until I started third grade. I was to report to an out-of-the-way first-floor classroom by the nurse's office. This alarmed me; the third-grade classrooms were on the second floor. When my classmates reported that they were in every grade but third, I got really scared. Gradually, I learned that we were in "special class" — a dozen students with sensory, social and developmental deficits, one teacher and a huge play area.
 
The large-print book I received was a slap in the face. It was the text I had in first grade. Larger print, to the puzzlement of the adults, didn't help. With a severely restricted visual field and damage to my central vision, I could barely see one word at a time in regular print. Large print was worse. The other problems — needing to be right on top of the page and losing my place when clouds passed over — went unchanged.
 
Well, I'd just apply myself and finish the first-grade book. She'd have to give me the next one, and soon I'd have the third-grade text. But each day, when I finished my assignment and asked for another, the teacher said the same thing: "You may go and play with the blocks if you wish." I didn't wish, but she insisted.
 
Frustration soon morphed into despair.

Someone to Stand Up for Me

An eye-doctor appointment in Philadelphia that October brought things to a head. Dr. Spaeth knew I loved school and had done well despite my vision. When he asked how third grade was going and received a less than enthusiastic response, he questioned my parents.
 
"They've placed her in special class," said my father.
 
"She doesn't like it," my mother added.
 
"Special class?" he bellowed. "This child doesn't have a problem with her mind; she has a problem with her eyes."
 
He ordered my parents to go to the school and insist that I be placed in a regular class. He concluded, "If they don't remove her from that class, I'll come up there and remove her myself."

Compromises and Consequences

The buoyant relief I felt in the presence of Dr. Spaeth's support was short-lived. My new teacher wasn't pleased to have a student with bad eyes in her class. She yelled at the girl behind me for reading the test questions from the blackboard to me, and she laughed with the bullies.
 
As the years passed, no other teacher treated me that badly, but my vision worsened and the homework increased. Friends were friends only when no one else was around. I escaped through writing and playing piano. After five years of lessons, however, I could no longer see the music well enough to memorize it. With no other options, I quit.
 
Junior high brought an increase in the bullying. When I finally snapped, I landed in the principal's office. As the workload grew and my vision deteriorated, I had to prioritize; English and science were in; history and math fell by the wayside. Despite these compromises, I had massive headaches at night and started each morning in the girls' room sick to my stomach.

Me vs. the Naysayers

So, how did I survive? Hope? No, hopes get dashed. Willpower? Willpower falters. Both are too easily influenced by external realities.
 
Teachers, students and even total strangers regularly felt the need to inform me of the bleak prospects for my future. I would never be able to go to college, live away from my parents, bake a cake or hold down a job. Even love was pre-ordained to be beyond my capabilities — all because I didn't gather visual information like "normal" people.
 
Simply put, I didn't want these prognosticators to be right. I often thought that they probably were right, but I didn't want them to be. There's a difference. The outside world couldn't change that fact. I couldn't change it either, and I couldn't pretend that I didn't know it.
 
Too many people think that overcoming obstacles is something only accomplished by the folks who always believe in themselves and never fall victim to despair. Most of us slip, fall and pick ourselves up time and time again. Little by little, in fits and starts, I took steps toward independence.

Small Breaks in the Clouds

At 14, I asked for and received a guitar. I taught myself to play based on those piano lessons. My poetry turned into song lyrics, and I wrote my way through my tangled feelings.
 
At the end of my freshman year in college, the state rehabilitation counselor finally recommended recorded books at the end of my freshman year. Could it have been my terrible grades that tipped him off? Still, nothing was said about braille. Without reinforcement, my spelling deteriorated.
 
After college graduation, I applied for my first guide dog, against the recommendations of my counselor. He told the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (GDF), "Girls shouldn't be out alone at night," and insisted that I was getting around well enough in the daytime. He was, of course, not there when I fell into the construction pit on my way to class.
 
Fortunately, GDF ignored him. I was one of the first people they trained who had some usable vision. I had to learn to stop looking, and it was liberating. A classmate taught me the basics of braille. I'm terrible at it, but it, along with my guitar and songwriting skills, allowed me to live independently for many years before Rich and I married.

The Challenge Nowadays

The problem is not that any of this happened to me. It's that this is still happening to legally blind and visually impaired children. In fact, braille literacy as of 2009 was only 10 percent among the legally blind (far lower than in the 1950s), despite proof that it is a major indicator of success. Braille is simply not taught to visually impaired kids, many of whom have degenerative conditions like RP. My favorite excuse is, "It makes them look blind."
 
Nowadays, we have the digital tools to make information available to people with vision loss almost instantaneously. Still, only 5 percent of books and magazines are available in accessible formats. The Internet, so vital to modern life, is 80 percent inaccessible according to a 2011 study. At the heart of these issues is a central reality, common to all civil rights struggles. For equality to truly exist, the public has to believe in it. Do you?

Affiliate News

Mountain State Convention

The Mountain State Council of the Blind (MSCB) will hold its statewide convention the weekend of Sept. 20-22, 2013, in Martinsburg, W.Va. Hotel rates will be $89 nightly for single, double, or triple occupancy at the Holiday Inn.  To reserve your room, call the hotel at (304) 267-5500, and mention that you are with MSCB. 
 
On Friday, Sept. 20, students from Berkeley and Jefferson county public schools, along with invited students from the West Virginia School for the Blind, will experience a morning of riding, grooming, and getting to know therapy horses at Martinsburg's Horses with Hearts Program. After lunch, the students will participate in a student seminar providing information about career opportunities, resources, and a variety of information about strategies to successfully meet future life plans and objectives.
 
Convention activities include a sesquicentennial trivia contest on Friday night, and on Saturday, sessions of interest including emergency planning for visually impaired people, technology information exchange, and a panel sharing experiences and tips for independence focusing on travel, minor home repairs, gardening, and inside the home.
 
On Saturday afternoon, members will visit the Ferry Hill Plantation located about 3 miles from Antietam Battlefield. The plantation was built in the late 1800s, and a descendant of the original family served with General Lee and fought at Antietam. The National Park Service, along with describer Bill Patterson from Audio Services, developed a script to be used by rangers during the tours, making the plantation house come alive to those with vision loss. Our tour will test just how good the script is when a group of people with sight loss descend.
 
Saturday evening will feature the banquet and the always favorite auction.
 
For more information, contact Donna Brown at (304) 822-4679 or e-mail dandmbrown@atlanticbb.net. Please set this time aside and visit with us in the eastern panhandle of beautiful West Virginia.

ACBHSP Conference Call

The American Council of the Blind Human Service Professionals (HSP) will hold an information sharing/gathering conference call on Sunday, Oct. 7, 3 p.m. Pacific (6 p.m. Eastern).  The number is (218) 844-3388, and the access code is 222477 (ACB-HSP).
 
We will discuss topics for future conference calls and meeting programs, ask for input about the needs of human service professionals who are blind, list the benefits of membership in the organization, and plan our direction for the coming year. 
 
If you have questions or have input, contact Darian Slayton Fleming at (503) 522-3272 or at darehart56@hotmail.com.
 
ACB-HSP is a special-interest affiliate of the ACB and is made up of mental health professionals, psychologists, vocational rehabilitation counselors/teachers, human resource personnel, information/referral specialists, etc.  The group was founded to provide a forum for advancing the understanding, knowledge and effectiveness of its members in relation to their respective vocations and professions. It serves as a forum for discussing the views and concerns of people with vision impairments who are interested in issues facing those in the human service professions.  This includes providing information about publications that are produced in accessible formats and encouraging the production of such material.  The group strives to facilitate the free exchange of relevant ideas, opinions, and information through e-mail lists, conference calls and other forms of open communication.  The group may provide meeting facilitation, training, counseling, and other similar services to members and affiliates of the American Council of the Blind that are consistent and within standard national and state code of ethics guidelines.

ACB of Indiana Convention

ACB of Indiana will hold its 42nd annual convention Nov. 1-3, 2013, in the Canyon Inn at McCormick's Creek State Park, 451 McCormick's Creek Park Rd., Spencer, IN 47460.  To reserve your room, call the Indiana State Parks Inns call center at 1-877-563-4371 and give them the group code, 1101AM.
 
The theme of this year's convention is "Team ACBI: Building People Power, Creating Positive Change."
 
Friday's session will begin at 7 p.m. and will include an auction. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with the business meeting starting at 9 a.m.; it will include various speakers and a talent share.  Sunday's activities begin at 9 a.m., with the convention adjourning at noon. Registration is only $25 per person for the weekend.
 
Scheduled speakers include: Dr. Shirin Hassan, Indiana University School of Optometry, Vision Rehab Services; Lise Pace, marketing manager, NIB Leadership & Employment Advocate, Bosma Enterprises; Nolan Crabb, president, American Council of the Blind of Ohio; and Ethan Crough, executive director of the Bartholomew County School Foundation.
 
Several vendors will be present on Saturday to demonstrate their products and share information.
 
For more information, visit our web site, www.acb-indiana.org, or contact president Mike Bowman at (317) 726-0745 or e-mail hmbowman@sbcglobal.net.

RSVA Summer Convention Awards

At RSVA's annual awards luncheon, we presented a number of awards to deserving recipients. First, RSVA (R) acknowledged Eric Bridges in a resolution for his six years of dedicated service to ACB, especially his efforts on behalf of RSVA as the director of advocacy and governmental affairs. Some of his work for RSVA included the Presidential Memorandum and legislation affecting the Randolph-Sheppard program.
 
The first award given was the Don Cameron Advocacy Award, which is presented in memory of Don Cameron for his many years of service for blind vendors, especially in the areas of communication and legislation. Born in Greensboro, N.C., and educated at Virginia Commonwealth University, Ken Jessup has lived mostly in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, and has always been self-employed. He worked for 25 years as a Randolph-Sheppard vendor, and has spent the last 18 years as a lobbyist representing organizations in the environment and disability fields.
 
Next was the Jennings Randolph Service Award, presented to someone outside of the Randolph-Sheppard program who has given his or her time and energy to Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, and for his or her service to blind vendors, but is not an active vendor. Sue Sippl has dedicated her life to her careers and her family.  She started out in the bookkeeping and accounting field.  As children arrived, she switched to the food service industry to accommodate her daughters' and husband's needs for transportation to and from school and work.  After her retirement from food service, she continued her bookkeeping and accounting for her husband's vending route. She continues to provide transportation for family, friends, and now grandchildren.
 
And then there's the Vendor of the Year Award.  This award is presented to an RSVA member who has been an active member for at least five years and has given his or her time and energy to Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, and for service to blind vendors. Marie Keane started her first shop at the post office in Cambridge, Mass. She has been working at her current snack shop, located in the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, for six years.
 
Last but not least is the RSVA Distinguished Service Award, which is given periodically to members who have gone far beyond expectations, and are recognized because of their many years of service and dedication. This year, we are presenting two awards.
 
This winner entered the vending program in 1982. In 1985, he was the recipient of the Eva H. Smyth Award, presented by the Hawaii Association of the Blind to an individual who has made distinguished contributions to the welfare and well-being of the blind people of Hawaii. In 1986, the Hawaii Blind Vendors Association presented him with their very first Blind Vendor of the Year Award. He has always been involved in helping others. The Hawaii Association of the Blind was his brainchild. He was its first president, and has been its most dedicated member. Congratulations to Warren Toyama!
 
Our second winner has been in the Randolph-Sheppard Program in Louisiana for 34 years, having served as the state's elected committee chairman, treasurer for Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America, and a past president of RSVA, Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of Louisiana, and Louisiana Council of the Blind.  While operating 6 locations and managing the Bingo hall, he is also the executive director for RSVL. We appreciate the many hours Terry Camardelle has invested in the Bingo operations and other efforts for RSVA.

Here and There edited by Sharon Strzalkowski

The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers.  "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned.  To submit items for this column, send a message to info@acb.org, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox.  Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.

Job Accommodations Request Survey

Individuals aged 50 or older who need job accommodations are being sought for a study by researchers at the Florida State University. You are invited to share your perceptions of factors related to accommodation requests by answering a few questions about yourself, your organization (if applicable), and your abilities and emotions in the process. This survey will take about 20-30 minutes.
 
To take the survey online, visit https://fsu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eCZp9L0mXe40N0h.
 
The first 100 participants completing the survey will have a 1-in-4 chance of winning a $25 gift certificate; and the rest of the respondents completing the survey will have a 1-in-4 chance of winning a $10 gift certificate. This survey will help service providers and employers learn more about how to improve the job accommodation process for older workers.
 
If you have any questions about the research study or need an alternative survey format, please contact Dr. Shengli Dong by e-mail at workplace_accommodation@fsu.edu.

Disaster Preparedness Survey

On Oct. 13, the UN International Day for Disaster Reduction will focus on the issues surrounding some one billion of the world's people who live with disabilities and disaster risks. Since, for the most part, people with disabilities have no significant representation in the planning and decision-making processes to reduce these risks or build resilience, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is conducting a survey to ascertain the needs of people living with disabilities and disasters. To take the survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/XJFJD96.

Goalball Teams Come Up Big

At the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) 2013 Pan American Games held July 9-15 in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USA women's national goalball team won the gold medal and the men's team won the silver medal.  Women's team members are Jen Armbruster (Portland, Ore.), Lisa Czechowski (Tucson, Ariz.), Jordan Gist (Fargo, N.D.), Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.), Amanda Dennis (Peachtree, Ga.) and Cathy Morgan (Logan, Utah). The men's team features Joe Hamilton (Sacramento, Calif.), Andy Jenks (Wilmington, Del.), John Kusku (Warren, Mich.), Donte' Mickens (Delray Beach, Fla.), Matt Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Daryl Walker (Jacksonville, Fla.). Both teams cemented spots in the IBSA 2014 World Goalball Championships in Finland by finishing in the top two. The teams hope to do well in Finland and move on to the Paralympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
 
But it wasn't just the adults who did well at the games.  The USA boys' national team won the silver medal in the IBSA 2013 World Youth Championships, and the USA girls' team received the bronze.

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Bonnie Granger of McKees Rocks, Pa., and Zelda Gebhard of Edgeley, N.D.! They were the winners of the drawing for the Kurzweil 1000 software donated by Universal Low Vision Aids, in coordination with Cambium Learning Technologies. The drawing was held at the convention in Columbus, Ohio.

Science Sense Tours

The American Museum of Natural History offers Science Sense Tours to visitors who are blind or visually impaired.  Tours are free with museum admission. Science Sense tours are available to individuals or groups. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Programs may be subject to change. For additional information, or to register for a Science Sense tour, call (212) 313-7565 or e-mail accessibility@amnh.org.
 
Wednesday, Sept. 18th, 2:30 p.m.: Biodiversity. Discover the wide range and variety of life on Earth, and learn how every species is interconnected, how they evolved, what purpose they serve, and why their preservation is necessary for maintaining our environment.
 
Sunday, Oct. 20th, 10 a.m.: Minerals and Gems. Examine the collection of minerals specimens collected from around the world and gems of all shapes, sizes and colors.
 
Wednesday, Nov. 13th, 2:30 p.m.: Something Old, Something New. Explore the oldest and the newest in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms.
 
Saturday, December 14th, 10 a.m.: Human Origins. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Who are we? And what makes us human? Explore these questions in the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins and the Sackler Educational Laboratory.

Ski for Light is Alaska Bound

The 39th annual Ski for Light International week will be held in Anchorage, Alaska from Feb. 23-March 2, 2014.  Join more than 200 active blind and sighted adults from across the U.S. and around the world who pair up for what many have called the experience of a lifetime.
 
Participants will stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center and ski at nearby Kincaid Park. Kincaid Park is a world-class facility that has 60 kilometers of wonderfully groomed cross-country trails. A highlight of the week will be the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog race on March 1 in downtown Anchorage.
 
Applications are due Nov. 1, and a partial financial stipend may be requested when completing the application. For more information, visit the web site, www.sfl.org. If you do not have computer access or need more information, please contact the visually impaired participant application coordinator, Lynda Boose, at (906) 370-7541 or via e-mail, LBoose@up.net.

High Tech Swap Shop

For Sale:
SanDisk Sansa 6-megabyte MP3/FM radio player in good working order. Comes with charger cable and arm band. It has Rock Box installed. Contact Jeff via e-mail, jeff.mihelich@gmail.com, or via phone, (612) 869-7410.
 
For Sale:
Braille Note PK with KeySoft version 7.2.  Asking $800 or best offer.  Contact Philip at (703) 581-9587 or via e-mail, philip-ashley2006@hotmail.com.

ACB Officers

President
Kim Charlson (1st term, 2015)
57 Grandview Ave.
Watertown, MA 02472
 
First Vice President
Jeff Thom (1st term, 2015)
7414 Mooncrest Way
Sacramento, CA 95831-4046
 
Second Vice President
Marlaina Lieberg (1st term, 2015)
15100 6th Ave. SW, Unit 728
Burien, WA 98166
 
Secretary
Ray Campbell (1st term, 2015)
460 Raintree Ct. #3K
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
 
Treasurer
Carla Ruschival (2nd term, 2015)
148 Vernon Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
 
Immediate Past President
Mitch Pomerantz
1115 Cordova St. #402
Pasadena, CA 91106

ACB Board of Directors

Berl Colley, Lacey, WA (final term, 2016)
Sara Conrad, Stevensville, MI (1st term, 2016)
Janet Dickelman, St. Paul, MN (1st term, 2014)
Michael Garrett, Missouri City, TX (final term, 2016)
George Holliday, Philadelphia, PA (1st term, 2014)
John McCann, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2016)
Allan Peterson, Horace, ND (1st term, 2014)
Patrick Sheehan, Silver Spring, MD (1st term, 2014)
Dan Spoone, Orlando, FL (1st term, 2016)
David Trott, Talladega, AL (1st term, 2014)

ACB Board of Publications

Denise Colley, Chairman, Lacey, WA (1st term, 2015)
Ron Brooks, Phoenix, AZ (1st term, 2015)
Marcia Dresser, Reading, MA (final term, 2014)
Judy Jackson, Miami, FL (final term, 2014)
Doug Powell, Falls Church, VA (1st term, 2014)